The Yellow Notebook
He looked at her, grinning. He was not surprised. He was — interested. Yes, thought Ella, he’s interested. Well, good for him; she liked him for it. Suddenly he put back his broad healthy head and whooped: ‘Boy, oh boy, would I? Yes, sir, Ella, if you hadn’t said that I wouldn’t have known what to say.’
‘I know,’ she said, smiling demurely. (She could feel this demure smile, and marvelled at it.) She said, demurely: ‘Well, now, sir, I think you should set me at my ease, or something.’
He grinned. He was standing across the room from her; and she saw him as all flesh, a body of warm, abundant, exuberant flesh. Very well then, that’s what it would be. (At this point, Ella detached herself from Ella, and stood to one side, watching and marvelling.)
She got up, smiling, and deliberately pulled off her dress. He, smiling, took off his jacket, and stripped off his shirt.
In bed, it was a delightful shock of warm tense flesh. (Ella was standing to one side, thinking ironically: Well, well!) He penetrated her almost at once, and came after a few seconds. She was about to console or be tactful, when he rolled on his back, flung up his arms, and exclaimed: ‘Boy. Oh boy!’
(At this point Ella became herself, one person, both of them thinking as one.)
She lay beside him, controlling physical disappointment, smiling.
‘Oh boy!’ he said, contented. ‘That’s what I like. No problems with you.’
She thought this one out slowly, her arms around him. Then he began talking of his wife, apparently at random. ‘Do you know what? We go to the club, dancing, two, three nights a week. You know, that’s the best club in the town. All the boys look at me and think, lucky bastard! She’s the prettiest girl there, even after five kids. They are thinking we have a whale of a time. Oh boy, and sometimes I think, suppose I told them — we have five kids. And we’ve had it five times since we married. Well, I’m exaggerating, but that’s about it. She’s not interested, though she looks as if she is.’
‘What’s the trouble?’ asked Ella, demure.
‘Search me. Before we got married, when we were dating, she was hot enough then. Oh boy, when I think!’
‘How long were you — dating?’
‘Three years. Then we got engaged. Four years.’
‘And you never made love?’
‘Made love — oh, I see. No, she wouldn’t let me, and I wouldn’t have wanted her to. But everything but. And she was hot then, boy, when I think! And then on the honeymoon she froze up. And now I never touch her. Well, if we’re tight after a party sometimes.’ He let out his youthful energetic laugh, throwing his large brown legs up and letting them fall. ‘And we go dancing, she’s all dressed to kill, and all the boys looking at her and envying me, and I think: if they just knew!’